TheConsul [ A Weekly Commentary on Current Events and World Affairs ] for the week of Monday, February 28
Volume I. | Issue 7
“Where there is a sea, there are pirates” “As to what this holds for the future of our oceanic waters is uncertain because there is really way other than time of knowing whether this event is going to be representative of future piracy and hostageinvolved events.” (page 2)
NASA Coming to an End or Just Beginning? “Everyone wants to see a return to the moon or a Mars mission coming our way, but the truth is that we currently don’t have the technology to even go half the distance to Mars.“ (page 3)
Managing Editor Shubhi Nigam Layout Editor Leonardo Sumulong Columnists Aakash Abbi Jason Littman Michael Luo Sindhuri Nandakumar Justin Pergolini Akshay Subramanian Jessica Yu In collaboration with the IAA Publications Team
Unrest In The Arab World
“Surely February 2011 will go down as a month that shook the Arab Questions & comments? world, if not yet radically, then at least through the civil protests that Please address correspondence to: call an end to unemployment, corruption, and repressive government: email@example.com the region’s common woes.” (page 3)
Divergent Interests Continue To Plague the G-20 “...the stark diﬀerence in the pace of the recovery in the developing and developed economies has resulted in a lack of cohesion among the G-20 nations.” (page 4)
UEFA Champions League – Knockout Round of 16, Leg 1, Week 2 “Real Madrid traveled to the Stade Gerland in Lyon to face the team who has been a thorn in their side for the past several years. Madrid were beaten on each of their three previous visits to Lyon...” (page 5)
Amidst all this controversy and questions of conduct, there is also lurking an important question. Why did the Somali pirates kill their hostages, and what does this hold for the future of piracy and maritime security? A fundamental aspect of holding someone ransom is that you don’t kill them oﬀ; not right away at least. This would defy the whole purpose of kidnapping, because the hostage is now the tool, the source of money. Killing the hostage would mean bidding goodbye to the ransom. Among theories aiming to justify this change in action is the idea that fundamental Islam and anti-Americanism have crept into the agenda of the Somali Pirates. Others say that this is retaliation for the thirty year sentencing given to a Somali pirate who was arrested in 2009.
[ SOCIETY ] “Where there is a sea, there are pirates” by Sindhuri Nandakumar
n Tuesday February 22nd, amidst anti-government protests in Libya and demonstrations in Wisconsin, four Americans were shot to death by Somali pirates, once again leading to the resurfacing of dialogue surrounding issues of maritime security and claim to the seas. Jean and Scott Adam, a couple sailing around the world, the couple on a religious mission, distributing copies of the Bible around the world, and Phyllis Macay and Robert A. Riggle were killed by Somali pirates in ‘Quest,’ the hijacked yacht that was being shadowed by the United States naval forces for four days in a standoﬀ before the killing took place.
Others simply state that the pirates were confused and arguing amongst themselves as to what the best course of action would be. When the American forces took over the yacht, they found two dead bodies of the pirates in addition to those of the hostages.
After initial shock and sorrow was expressed at the circumstances of the event, other, more suspicious aspects have now begun to emerge. A lot of controversy has been attached to the fact that the US naval forces negotiators had told the pirates that they would not be allowed to go ashore with their captives. Some have cited this as being the reason why the hostages were killed.
As to what this holds for the future of our oceanic waters is uncertain because there is really way other than time of knowing whether this event is going to be representative of future piracy and hostage-involved events. Moreover, the structure of these Piracy Groups have been changing, transforming disillusioned Somali youth into masterminds plotting for money. As they become more desperate for money, it is likely that this frustration could be played out in their treating of an attitude towards the hostages.
American oﬃcials however, maintain ﬁrm ground in saying that the reason why the hostages were shot is very unclear. In their defense, some maritime security experts have reiterated the importance of always knowing where the hostages are. If the US forces had allowed the Somali pirates to reach the shore, it would have been diﬃcult to locate their whereabouts, leaving the US negotiators with very little leverage.
While it is important for countries around the world to make sure than international law and treaties address this important issue, especially because of the potential damage that could be inﬂicted upon international trade and oil supply routes such as the Gulf of Aden, it is more important to understand the cause of this issue, which takes us to the situation in Somalia. Naval enforcement in international waters is something that not every country can aﬀord, in addition to diverting funds away from other, potentially more important needs. Stricter enforcement is not going to prevent the disillusionment and depravity that nudge young men into a life of piracy. What is go-
However, another criticism directed against the conduct of the US forces is that the two Somali pirates who came on board to engage in ‘friendly’ negotiations with the Americans were detained because they were ‘not serious enough,’ even though it was understood that the negotiations would be sans coercion of any kind.
ing to be useful is understanding the causes of this depravity, and implementing the means to address them.
While NASA’s new focus may be on research, I think they’ve ﬁnally realized that the private space industry may be able to advance space travel more eﬃciently and faster than NASA. Leon Lederman, a recipient of the Nobel Prize for physics, has stated that the private sector could probably get to Mars in twenty years. He’s probably correct. Industry is much more eﬃcient with research and development than the government because industry is out to make a proﬁt (for example, Virgin Group’s Virgin Galactic). In an ideal next twenty years, industry and NASA will work side by side to advance space travel and develop a mission to the moon or beyond.
[ TECHNOLOGY ] NASA Coming to an End or Just Beginning? by Jason Littman
fter twenty seven years of space expeditions, the Discovery Space Shuttle has taken its last ﬂight. This evening, at 4:50:27 P.M. EST, Discovery lifted oﬀ from Cape Canaveral, heading to the International Space Station. This is a sad day in American history because it represents the United States losing the battle in space. The European Union, Japan, and Russia currently have expanding space programs, but it seems as if NASA is taking a break. Can this be true? Throughout the sixties and seventies it seemed as if NASA was winning the battle and was a role model for Americans. Unfortunately, NASA doesn’t seem to have anything to look forward to in the near future. While there has been an increase in NASA’s budget for this year, the capital is being used for research and updating purposes. I guess that’s important, but we all want to see Mars spaceships and Reagan’s Star Wars systems, right? I guess that will just have to wait.
NASA was once an American icon; something to be proud of as an American. Today…not so much, in terms of exciting initiatives. While NASA may not be too exciting nowadays, I’m sure it’s long run goals are exciting, cutting edge, and will take us to a “galaxy far, far away.”
[ FOREIGN POLITICS ] Unrest in the Arab World by Jessica Yu
n the topic of ripples spreading from Egypt, it’s also important to sift through the latest mass demonstrations in a collective context. Surely February 2011 will go down as a month that shook the Arab world, if not yet radically, then at least through the civil protests that call an end to unemployment, corruption, and repressive government: the region’s common woes. Here’s a list of countries to stay current .
While NASA seems to be dwindling down, I think that this is just the beginning of a new era for NASA. I believe NASA is just preparing for future missions to the moon and beyond. Everyone wants to see a return to the moon or a Mars mission coming our way, but the truth is that we currently don’t have the technology to even go half the distance to Mars. I think the current primary goal of NASA is to go back to the moon and set up a permanent residence there. This is no easy feat, considering the moon is 238,857 miles away, has no surface water or oxygen, and is smothered with deadly dust and radiation. Clearly research must be done to allow humans to live in this environment and advance the space program.
Libya. This energy-rich country has been ruled by Colonel Muammar el-Qaddaﬁ since he seized power in 1969. It is well known that Libya’s oil revenues are channeled to support his cult of personality (e.g. he likes to live in a large tent and travel with female bodyguards) as well as his behind-thescenes tribal alliances. Qaddaﬁ, facing allegations of human rights violations, recently proposed a doubling of state employees’ salaries and has released 110 suspected Islamic militants from jail to quell unrest. Protests continue to spread.
[ ECONOMY ]
Yemen. A new, educated generation has severely criticized the country’s long-entrenched regimes and economic unrest. As the latest protests storm Yemen in wake of Tunisia’s revolution, the people of this Arab state are now targeting the government’s pervasive corruption that blocks their advancement. So far, demonstrators have taken to Sanaa, the capital, despite President Ali Abdullah Saleh’s statement, which many believe only seeks to defuse protestors’ anger, declaring he will not seek reelection in 2013.
Divergent Interests Continue to Plague the G-20 by Akshay Subramanian
he ﬁnance ministers and central bank governors of the G-20 convened in Paris earlier this weekend. As was anticipated, the issues that dominated discussions were the establishment of indicators to provide early signs of economic imbalances, China’s policy on the Yuan and rising commodity prices. Consensus among the nations was conspicuous in its absence as countries debated over technical details regarding what factors would be used to determine economic imbalances. After rounds of negotiations and much compromise, a deal was ﬁnally reached. The indicators decided on by the G-20 were levels of public and private debt, trade surplus, investment ﬂows and exchange rates. However, owing to opposition from China, currency reserves were not included as one of the harbingers of economic imbalance. China currently possesses around $2.85 trillion in currency reserves. Any restrictions imposed on the level of currency reserves would hamper China’s eﬀorts to control the Yuan. The diﬃculty experienced in accommodating diverging interests serves as ample testimony to the frictions within the G-20.
Iran. Two opposition ﬁgures – Mir Hussen Moussavi and Mehdi karroubi – have called for protests after the deaths of two demonstrators. Iran has drawn criticism not only for its political suppression but also for a nuclear program that is allegedly linked to the production of weapons. In 2009, the so-called Green Movement saw thousands of people protest the national elections, which is widely believed to have been rigged in favor of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Bahrain. One of the most vital regional links for the United States, which bases its Fifth Fleet there, Bahrain produces a large amount of oil and is a banking hub. It is one of the Gulf’s most politically volatile countries. Yesterday more than 100,000 people poured into Pearl Square attempting to rid the monarchy whose grasp on power is slipping. (As it happens, the Formula One race, scheduled in March outside the capital, Manama, is now canceled.)
During the ﬁnancial crisis, members of the G-20 faced common issues and were able to come to an agreement in a more cohesive manner. However, the stark diﬀerence in the pace of the recovery in the developing and developed economies has resulted in a lack of cohesion among the G-20 nations. Developing nations such as China, India and Brazil are grappling with inﬂation whereas developed countries such as the US still face high unemployment, sluggish growth and low inﬂation levels though economic prospects have been bright over the past couple of months. Developing economies are also worried about a sudden surge of capital inﬂows that would come about due to the higher interest rates prevalent in the emerging countries. These contrasting situations have made it diﬃcult for the group to make decisions that would be agreeable to all nations.
Time magazine ran an article this week, “Nine Autocrats in Trouble,” that was a great mini-series serving as a window to the countries under great ﬁre of surveillance. Robert Mugabe and House of Saud are up on the list. As banks reopen in Egypt this week, and the Pyramids of Giza hope to see tourist in-ﬂow, commentators have largely noted that the spirit of the Egyptian revolution was constructive, not destructive. It’ll be interesting to see how long the other regimes last.
[ SPORT ]
These diverging interests were also present during the summit at Seoul in November last year when the major bone of contention was the global currency dispute. The latest meeting has only shown that the gulf between the nations has not narrowed in the interim. This has signiﬁcantly hampered proceedings and it does not paint a good picture when each country acts primarily in its personal interest. Rifts within the G-20 will remain as long as the developed world, the US in particular, and China don’t see eye-to-eye on the Yuan. China has resisted international pressure and has continued to keep a lid on the Yuan. The US has continuously maintained that the Yuan must be allowed to ﬂoat freely based on market fundamentals. It was also the ﬁrst time, Brazil and India decided to join hands with the US in criticizing China’s currency policy. China has been reluctant to allow the Yuan to appreciate considerably because such a move would hinder its export competitiveness. Though some headway was made with regards to including exchange rates as one of the indicators of global imbalance, China was able to dilute the message of the communiqué.
UEFA Champions League – Knockout Round of 16, Leg 1, Week 2 by Michael Luo
somewhat less exciting quartet of matches this week in the Champions League, without the upsets by Tottenham and Arsenal that we saw last week. On Tuesday, Chelsea went to Kobenhavn and cruised to a 2-0 victory while Real Madrid broke their curse at Lyon with a 1-1 draw. Wednesday saw Bayern Munich squeak a 1-0 away win in the last minute against Inter and Manchester United get a goalless draw at Marseille. Chelsea’s victory was a much-needed break in their current dismal run of form. The winners of last year’s Premier League and FA Cup double are now struggling to even qualify for next year’s Champions League. With limits on outside investment soon to be imposed on clubs, the TV revenue from the Champions League will become even more important to clubs like Chelsea who are built around expensive players. Manager Carlo Ancelotti’s future was also doubtful, and he needs a strong showing in the Champions League to save his job. This match shows precisely why the 3-man attack used against Liverpool a few weeks ago failed so miserably – Drogba, Torres, and Anelka are all central strikers,and to play one of them in support of the others just doesn’t work. Anelka played brilliantly against Kobenhavn, scoring both goals and linking up well with his fellow Frenchman Florent Malouda on the left. Playing three strikers also takes away a spot from the midﬁeld, where Frank Lampard’s passes to either Anelka or Torres were the spark of several attacks. Torres, though he still hasn’t scored for Chelsea since his transfer, was unlucky not to have scored on Tuesday as he made several good runs at goal and was a big threat throughout the game. Perhaps it may be Drogba who has to make way for his fellow strikers, as Anelka is the in-form one at the moment, and Chelsea are unlikely to let the £50 million they paid for Torres go to waste.
The latest G-20 summit can thus be described as one which attained limited progress but not without much discord. The success of this global platform is highly dependent on the degree of solidity within the group, which is unfortunately absent at present. If countries are to attain any progress at this summit, they must do away with self-interests and cooperate with each other to attain consensus on issues with major implications. The prospects of the nations mending their diﬀerences in time for the next scheduled meeting of the heads of the government in November this year are bleak. It will be interesting to see if there will be any radical change at the next G-20 summit or if it will be rendered meaningless and redundant.
The Bayern-Inter replay of last year’s ﬁnal ended goalless except for a lone 90 minute strike, but each team could have easily had 2 or 3 more goals apiece. Samuel Eto’o absolutely shredded Bayern’s defense, often combining with Maicon running down the right ﬂank. If it weren’t for a brilliant display by Bayern’s keeper Thomas Kraft, Inter would have won by several goals. At the other end, Arjen Robben exploited the weakness of Inter’s Cristian Chivu, cutting in and shooting from the right at what seemed like once a minute in the second half, beating keeper Julio César and hitting the crossbar several times. Because of the late error by César which gave the goal away to Mario Gomez, Inter will probably need to put at least two goals past Bayern when they travel to Munich for the second leg, if last year’s champions are to advance to the next round.
I didn’t get around to watching the Marseille-Manchester United game, but by all accounts, it was as boring as the scoreline suggests. Manchester United will have to play carefully at home in the next match due to not getting that crucial away goal. In other news, Arsenal were dealt a major blow in their quest to ﬁnish oﬀ Barcelona in the return leg at the Camp Nou, due to injuries suﬀered by Cesc Fàbregas and Theo Walcott in their game with Stoke in the English Premier League this week. And Chilean U-20 player Bryan Carrasco apparently used a match against Ecuador to audition for a future career as a stunt double – he grabbed one of his opponents’ arms and punched himself in the face with it in an eﬀort to get the Ecuadorean sent oﬀ – to no avail as Ecuador held onto their 1-0 lead to win the game.
Real Madrid traveled to the Stade Gerland in Lyon to face the team who has been a thorn in their side for the past several years. Madrid were beaten on each of their three previous visits to Lyon, who have knocked the Spanish giants out of the Champions League each time. However, this year, they have last year’s Champions League-winning coach Jose Mourinho with them, and he managed to eke out a draw. Karim Benzema, former top-scorer for Lyon, scored Madrid’s goal less than a minute after coming on as a substitute in the second half. Lyon equalized through Bafétimbi Gomis, who made up for missing a point-blank shot in the ﬁrst half that came after a rare fumble from Madrid keeper Iker Casillas. The less-than optimal result for Madrid was likely the result of the rather conservative 4-3-2-1 “Christmas Tree” formation played by Mourinho, who sacriﬁced width in the attack for a slightly more compact midﬁeld. Unfortunately, this allowed Lyon to double-team Cristiano Ronaldo and Mesut Özil, neutralizing their threat, as well as placing Angel di Maria (who seemed to have gotten fouled over a dozen times) in an uncomfortable position further back the pitch. Lyon were able to maintain pressure on Madrid in the ﬁrst half by constantly pressing their attack, with left-sided players Cissohko and Michel Bastos combining very eﬀectively. Unfortunately for Lyon, Bastos will be suspended for the rematch due to picking up another yellow card in the game.
Columnists Aakash Abbi Jason Littman Michael Luo Sindhuri Nandakumar Justin Pergolini Akshay Subramanian Jessica Yu “...the stark diﬀerence...